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John Fante papers, ca. 1925-2000
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement

  • Title: John Fante papers
    Collection number: 1832
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 23.5 linear ft. (47 document boxes and 8 oversize boxes)
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1925-2000
    Abstract: John Fante (1909-1983) was an American writer of Italian descent whose depiction of 1930s Los Angeles in his novel Ask the Dust (1939) earned him his greatest acclaim. The work inspired later artists such as Charles Bukowski and Robert Towne. Fante wrote many short stories and novels throughout his life. He also worked as a contract screenwriter for Hollywood studios. The collection consists of manuscripts, publications, correspondence, articles, financial records, ephemera and memorabilia.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance through our electronic paging system using the request button located on this page.
    Creator: Fante, John, 1909-1983

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance through our electronic paging system using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
    No copying/photographing of unpublished writings.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Purchase, 2009.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Daniel Gardner in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT)  with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, 2010.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John Fante Papers (Collection 1832). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6495046 


    John Fante was a writer of short stories, novels, and screenplays. He was born April 8, 1909 in Denver, Colorado to Nick and Mary Fante. John graduated from Regis High School in 1927 and briefly attended the University of Colorado, Boulder before heading to California to embark on his writing career. In 1930 he began a correspondence with the esteemed editor of The American Mercury, H.L. Mencken, who published Fante's first story, "Altar Boy" (1932). Fante's early writings established the central conflicts and themes that would continue to characterize his art. The autobiographically-inflected fiction that he would produce throughout his life most commonly reimagined his struggles with Roman Catholicism, his family, his identification as an ethnic American, and his development as a writer. In the early years of his career, Fante wrote and published many short stories; a collection of these, Dago Red, appeared in 1940. During this time he also wrote three novels: The Road to Los Angeles (ca.1936, published in 1985), Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938), and Ask the Dust (1939). The novels introduce Fante's major character, Arturo Bandini, and track his psychological and aesthetic development. Prior to the publication of the two novels Fante met Joyce Smart. The two were secretly married in 1937. Joyce would be the greatest advocate for his literary career, not only serving as his first and most trusted reader but also saving the manuscripts, documents, and other records that now constitute the John Fante papers. It was also during the 1930s that Fante began working as a contract screenwriter for various Hollywood studios. Though he disliked the job and believed it detracted him from his literary career, screenwriting made for an intermittently handsome, albeit unstable income. Jeanne Eagels (1957) and A Walk on the Wild Side (1962) are among the more notable films to his credit. Fante wrote the screenplay adaptation of his fourth novel, Full of Life (1952). The resulting film, also called Full of Life (1956), did well both commercially and critically, the only such success of Fante's film career. He continued to publish novels, including one for children, Bravo, Burro! (1970), and The Brotherhood of the Grape (1977). His final work, Dreams from Bunker Hill (1982), concludes the quartet of novels often referred to as the Saga of Arturo Bandini. John Fante died of pneumonia on May 8, 1983 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. Soon afterward, Black Sparrow Press began releasing new editions of Fante's long out-of-print works as well as several previously unpublished novels and short stories: The Wine of Youth (1983), The Road to Los Angeles, West of Rome (1986), 1933 Was a Bad Year (1991), and The Big Hunger: Stories 1932-1959 (2000). Two feature films have been made from Fante's works, Dominique Deruddere's adaptation of Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1989), and Robert Towne's adaptation of Ask the Dust (2006).

    Scope and Content

    The John Fante Papers range from ca. 1925 to 2000. The papers include manuscripts, printed materials, correspondence, financial records, and assorted ephemera related to Fante's life and career. Manuscripts of The Road to Los Angeles (ca.1936), Wait Until Spring Bandini (1938), and the prologue to Ask the Dust (1939) are included along with those of his others novels and short stories. Other materials include: printed stories and articles, scripts, and letters. The financial records reflect John Fante's personal life and career as an author and screenwriter. These records include items such as contracts, checks, receipts, and income statements. The collection also contains clippings, promotional materials, scrapbooks, and Fante's typewriter.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Writings by John Fante
      • 1.1. Literary Works
      • 1.2. Television, Film, and Radio Scripts
    2. 2. Correspondences
      • 2.1. John Fante Correspondences
      • 2.2. Joyce Fante Correspondences
    3. Writings by Others
      • 3.1. Writings by Others Regarding John Fante
      • 3.2. Writings by Others Assorted
    4. Associated Events
    5. Financial Records
      • 5.1. Professional Records
      • 5.2. Income Tax and Personal Expense Records
    6. Personal Records and Materials

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Fante, John, 1909-1983
    Novelists, American--20th century--Archives.
    Screenwriters--United States--Archives.